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Genetic genealogy organization says it has identified John Clinton Doe

ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) — A national organization says it has tentatively identified the remains of a teenager found dead more than 20 years ago in Rock County.

The remains of the teenager, who officials have named John Clinton Doe, were found near Turtle Creek in the town of Bradford in 1995. He’s believed to have died sometime in late 1994.

Last summer, investigators released new images of what they thought John Clinton Doe may have looked like on the day of his death.

A volunteer-run organization working to identify remains across the country posted on its website saying their new methods helped tentatively identify John Clinton Doe, calling the case a success story.

“It was a small, dedicated team who worked very efficiently and very well together,” said DNA Doe Project co-founder Margaret Press.

The organization uses genetic genealogy to help law enforcement agencies identify remains.

“The first thing we do is obtain DNA from the John or Jane Doe, usually from the crime lab in the local jurisdiction,” Press told 27 News. “We send that to a lab that creates a digital file for us that we can then upload to GEDMatch and compare it with people who have done direct to consumer testing.”

It can take months for the team of 60 volunteers to find distant relatives, but since starting the program in 2017 they’ve found 10 matches.

The work of internet sleuths has raised questions in recent months. Privacy concerns emerged after investigators found California’s alleged Golden State Killer using a genealogy site.

But Press says there is a lot of misinformation out there on this issue. While some unqualified internet detectives could make matters worse, she believes her trained volunteers are truly helping law enforcement agencies.

“The police who are looking at these databases have no more access than you or I would if we uploaded our own kit,” she said.

DNA Doe Project says it’s withholding details on the identification until Rock County Sheriff’s Office is prepared to make an announcement.

Rock County Capt. Todd Christiansen tells 27 News the sheriff’s office has sent the project’s results to a separate lab to do its own analysis on the findings before making a positive identification. It will likely be several months before it’s finalized.

If you know anything about the identity of John Clinton Doe, contact Rock County Sheriff’s Office at (608) 757-7923.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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